Why I Love Mistakes | Nurturing Wisdom Tutoring

Why I Love Mistakes

Have you ever dropped food on your clothes while eating in public? What’s the first thing you did? If you’re anything like me, you looked around and hoped no one saw you….even before you cleaned it up. After all, if no one saw it, you can act like it didn’t even happen.

All my life, I’ve been that way with mistakes. Not just the foolish little things like dropping food all over myself (which I do with some regularity), but all kinds of mistakes. If I totally goof something up at work, I’d hope I could fix it before anyone noticed. This is only natural, right?

Even now, when I realize I’ve made a mistake, I get a knot in my stomach, my skin feels almost prickly, and I start to sweat. Why? I’m still worried about who saw my mistake.

Yet, there’s a better goal to strive for. There’s a small population of people in our society who don’t feel this way every time they make a mistake. They honestly view mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. They don’t focus on the humiliation of the mistake, but rather on all that they can gain from it.

When babies first start walking, they fall over and over again, every hour of the day, without getting discouraged. We watch them and know that with each fall, they’re gaining strength and learning a little bit more about balance. Every fall moves them closer to walking with stability and confidence. It’s sad, but we un-learn this method of trial-and-error so quickly. I saw this recently happen with my own daughter.

When she was two, she adored puzzles. She would patiently sit and turn the pieces over and over again until her puzzle was done. It gave me so much joy to watch this! Then, abruptly, she stopped doing puzzles. I couldn’t figure it out. Suddenly I realized: she had come to fear failure. She didn’t want to attempt something she wasn’t sure she could finish. We talked about it, and made a new goal….to “try hard things” and to “stretch our brains” each day, regardless of mistakes. A few weeks later, she suddenly started picking up puzzles again, even if they’re hard, and she hasn’t stopped since.

Now it’s my turn. I want to value my mistakes. The lessons we learn from mistakes do not end when we become adults. I want to focus on each one as an opportunity for growth, not as a flaw in my character.

-Amanda Vogel